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Do Low NAEP Scores Indicate Savvy Students?

Liam Julian over at the Fordham Institute's Flypaper blog responds to the doom-and-gloom rhetoric surrounding the U.S.' static history NAEP scores and, well, every other education-related news item these days. Students have long been deficient in their historical knowledge, he writes.

And here's a question nobody seems to care about: Why would students compelled to take the NAEP give a damn about the answers they choose? Why would pupils with half a brain not just Christmas tree the thing and get on with their days (and these are the data on which so much rests?)? In this sense, then, falling NAEP scores may be a positive development—perhaps they show that American pupils are getting savvier, declining to spend their time jumping through hoops and taking an exam just so a bunch of people in Washington can eventually, inevitably decry the results!
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